I’m training for a marathon. That’s 26.2 miles of running, in layman’s terms. As if I didn’t have enough to do what with a demanding job, a wedding to plan, my fiancé, Don to feed and blog readers to please; I’m running a marathon. In five weeks. Bang smack over the busiest weeks at work ( I believe some people refer to these weeks as the holidays. Wimps.). And this weekend I’ve been running in snow storms, two inches of powder and sheet ice. Clearly the fact that I have lost my mind is no longer a point in question. It’s when the actual mind-upping-and-leaving-thing occurred that is left to be interpreted. Was it the decision to run a marathon in the first place or the fact that I’m still running in snow storms and frankly quite enjoying my addiction to running and lack of social life? Does it even matter? Anyway, there were half a dozen other crazy New Yorkers out running in the snow/ice combo yesterday. Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s mad enough to think running with an ice cream-like headache without the pleasure of the actual cream is not only normal but intensely enjoyable. No comments please, Don.
The only joy that I’m not finding through running is the hunger. I’m hungry all of the time. All of the time. Even when I’m trying to sleep I wake up to persistent rumblings. I’m beginning to know what it feels like to be Don. Well, not the running part- the only place Don runs is to meetings he’s late for or when there’s a beer at stake. Both occur relatively frequently. No comments please, Don.
The hardest part about being hungry all the time is making healthy decisions- those decisions where one is supposed think before one ravages and digests. Calories are no longer calories anymore- it’s how many good carbs are you eating (and that’s not necessarily good in the mmm mmm good sense), how much protein you’re eating and how little fat. Eating has never seemed so tedious. What happened to listening to what your body wants to eat- like: I feel like eating fresh from the oven French bread slathered in butter. I thought running miles = don’t have to worry so much about nutrition. How deceived I was.
In any case, there is a little more lee-way for treats and since Don forgot to hand out my freshly baked and decoratively packaged chocolate chip cookies to our doormen until they were a week old and stale I had two excuses to bake this weekend. No comments please, Don.
I’ve always loved florentines with their crisp buttery thin lace shells scattered with chopped nuts, candied orange and glace cherries, delicately painted on one side with dark chocolate. And I have made them this way, and they were quite delicious. Except that these days I have less time on my hands and with an increasing amount of time on my feet, spending a whole day over a single recipe has become less appealing. Besides which, I’m not sure I know anyone who would describe me as delicate (no comments please, Don) and so it seemed to make sense to make a chunkier, bolder, easier-to-make florentine. One that can be bitten into rather than nibbled on in lady-like fashion. So you’ll find in this recipe that there are no chopped nuts or fruit no multiple baking trays to line and no individual cookies to spread evenly among the trays. This is the one-pot-wonder of florentines (plus a saucepan and a bowl). I’ve omitted the glace cherries and candied orange because I figured some people might have difficulty finding them and besides, I didn’t have any left. And whilst running in the snow storm is perfectly acceptable, walking four blocks to the supermarket seems perfectly mad to me. Shut up, Don.
You can use any nuts that you like here- and any dried fruit would work. Store them in the fridge and they will be crisp and hard or leave them on the counter and they will remain chewy- if they remain at all.
Serves: This makes a 25 x 16 cm (10 x 6 inch) tin of florentines, how many you cut them into is left for you to decide- but 18 is about right.
Diet Facts: My defense: they are loaded with fat- but good fats because their nuts and it’s dark chocolate with releases dopaminie, and honey is a natural antiseptic so really, there not all that bad. Really.
200g/ 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
100g/ 3/4 cup brazil nuts
100g/ 3/4 cup shelled pistachios
10g/ 1/2 cup sugar
100g/ 1/3 cup honey
200g/ 1 heaping cup soft dried apricots
5og/ scant 1/2 cup shredded coconut
50g/ 1/3 cup plain flour
100g/ 4 oz best quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/ Heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 25 x 16 cm (10 x 6 inch) tin with greaseproof paper and spray with non stick spray.
2/ Spread nuts on a large baking tray and toast in the oven- about 8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
3/ In a small saucepan heat together the sugar and honey over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Meanwhile toss the apricots, coconut and flour and cooled nuts in a large bowl.
4/ Pour the melted honey/sugar mixture over the nut mixture and stir until fully coated. Press into the prepared tin evenly (wet your hand to press if you have trouble with the stickiness). Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.
5/ Turn out onto a board so that the flat side is up. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave for 1 minute (then stir until all melted). Spread over the flat base of the florentines and place somewhere cool to set- the fridge will make the bars really crisp- out of the fridge they will stay chewy. Use a large chefs knife to cut squares or break off into chunks.